So I am finally home. Or when this post goes live, I will be. And there will have been layovers, and time spent waiting at airports. You’ll hear me wax poetic about the meditative pros and the linguistic cons (“ein sangria por favor?”) of travel later on this week, but first I wanted to share with you the thing that keeps me calm and sane throughout all the madness of having to take nine flights through four countries. I’ve written about them before. Because I’m obsessed with them. I grew up with public radio in my house, my parents’ cars, my own earphones. For as long as I can remember, there has been someone talking about something in that tone so meditative and calm you might want to slap them that only radio personalities can channel. And for the weary traveler who may be crossing cultures and languages constantly, I don’t necessarily feel alone when that feeling creeps up. I even use them as a sleep aid. See? Multifunctional. So I thought I’d share some of my favourites today, and even a new one I just learned about on this trip.
The storytelling trifecta of This American Life, Radiolab and Snap Judgement must start any podcast list. How could I not include these? Ira Glass, Glynn Washington, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are gods among the podcasters. The storytelling, the music that goes with it, and the science! (because I’m a true nerd with the glasses and all) are something I look forward to every week.
I’m a pop culture nut. You don’t even know the extent of it. I’m also a member of the multiethnic diaspora that makes up the tossed salad (the starter) and melting pot stew (main dish) of North America. So hearing Two Brown Girls contemplate pop culture and the increasing awareness of major media networks to a multicultural audience is a bit of a big deal for me. Fariha Roisin and Zeba Blay hit all the right notes and it feels like I’m chatting with my best friends back home about it all.
I like a good mystery. And I don’t mind getting into all the dark corners. To the novice, start with Serial. Because it is addictive and it took the podcasting world by storm. Dinner party discussions were had. Mix it in with storytelling and move on to Criminal afterwards, and for the even darker parts of humanity (because learning about these building blocks are so compelling), head over to Here Be Monsters.
I couldn’t get away without some Canadian content. And while Q’s reputation was severely tarnished in the wake of it’s former host’s crimes last year, it’s pretty much with great relief to share that it’s new host, Canadian hip hop artist Shad has helped clear off all the debris and build something bright, new and shiny. But besides all of that, Q helps me stay in touch with what’s going on at home.
I’m a self-professed foodie and eater. I love cooking and my ADHD-addled mind needs to not only be focused on the art of cooking, but someone talking about food too. So I’ve got three favourite podcasts on rotation. The Dinner Party Download leads the way with more than I could ask for. A drink, a dish, a guest, some etiquette and a conversation. Oh and music. That’s important. Then there’s The Sporkful. Because I’m an eater and I like to hear about how other people eat. And because I like playing around in the kitchen, it all rounds off with America’s Test Kitchen.
Finally, the newest podcast I just added to my must-hear list comes from friends in London. I love a new twist on podcasting, and not only does this one feature music, English accents and spot-on interviews, but it’s definitely the oldest on this list. Notable guests have been choosing eight records they would taken with them to a desert island for the last 42 years on BBC Radio. We had this podcast on without stopping while we were tooling around southern Spain and it basically hasn’t stopped. This chat with Martin Sheen is among my faves.
PS – Some that I didn’t mention, but also have a very soft spot for: All Songs Considered (for new music fixes), Thinking Sideways (because I’m just weird that way), Pitch (also for the music lover), 99% Invisible (well, duh) and Planet Money (because it makes the world go round)